Answer me, 1997 – Thoughts After Last Episode
September 21, 2012 § 10 Comments
I just finished watching Reply/Reply to/Answer me, 1997 (I suggest watching it here, if you haven’t found somewhere else to do it). I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite shows all-time, completely without irony. Right now, I’m just so filled with emotions regarding this drama, thinking about youth and those first, hurtful lovestories. As previously mentioned, it is not really that I can see myself in the characters, but I can still relate to them, as if they were people I knew. Well-written, and often well-acted.
So, I hope I have now made my love for this drama clear. Maybe I’ll write more about that later, maybe not – there seem to be a lot of people who think the same, which is awesome. But although I bid farewell to this drama with deep appreciation and admiration and think a lot of things were handled extremely, even surprisingly well, there are still some things that I can’t shake, in a bad way. Here they go (warning for SPOILERS, and possibly for being a party pooper):
Abuse and Violence.
This is one of the first things that started haunting me while watching this drama. I cannot understand how Shi Won’s father can be used as just a comical figure when he shouts or sometimes even physically abuses his child or others around him. When he cut off Shi Won’s hair during one of the early episodes, I was creeped out in a way I’m pretty sure wasn’t intended. I actually often found him genuinely, deeply disturbing. I often read one or more re-caps at the same time as I watch a drama, both because I want to compare different translations and to be sure that I don’t miss out references I’d otherwise don’t get. The same goes for this drama. But none of the re-caps I have read have really discussed his abuse seriously, and I just don’t get it. Is this considered normal in Korea? In the US? Am I the only one who feels like his extreme shouting should come with dark music and shadows instead of goat sounds?
Overall, people kept hitting each other a lot in this drama, as in so many others. When I try imagining a life where people fight physically this much, I just shrink together in a small pile of imagined pain. I always find this strange and disturbing in kdramas. Same goes with shouting to each other, calling each other names, etc… all of it very unfamiliar to me. The few memories I have of fighting scenes like that in my own life are very, very painful. It seems like I can’t get used to seeing it in dramas either.
Sweden has a pretty strong alcohol culture, where the old ways of getting completely off your face wasted on holidays has been mixed up with a more “European” wine culture. It’s not that I am just generally scared of people getting drunk, and the first fifteen episodes of 1997 I didn’t really think that much about how they drank when they did. But in the last episode, Yoon Jae finds Shi Won in a bar and gets really angry with her for drinking. At first, I was annoyed with him for treating Shi Won like a child and talking about how he doesn’t like seeing his girlfriend drunk in front of other men. But when they stood outside the bar, he started pleading with her to at least not get so drunk she can’t walk, or throws up in public. And when they cut to scenes where she was pregnant, but wanted to drink anyway, I started thinking about how weird it was that this wasn’t treated as a bigger problem either. If I’d been in Yoon Jae’s place, I would probably have organized an intervention.
I don’t even know how to get started on this. In some ways, it’s too painful to even write about. I know that the kissing scenes in the last episode are supposed to be romantic, and I guess I have to take into account that social codes regarding gender roles and sexuality differ a lot throughout the world as well as among people in general. And I admit it, sometimes when I have been too shy or embarrassed to do something in an obviously attraction-charged situation, I have just wished for the other person to step forward instead. But if I am showing with my entire body that I don’t want to be kissed and someone kisses me anyway, what I hear inside of my head isn’t beautiful ballads. And to see those kinds of scenes between the obvious OTP in a drama just feels wrong to me.
Could someone please share their thoughts on these things with me? I need help sorting out my head on this.